Karl Ove Knausgaard and Haruki Murakami are among the authors whose work features on the longlist for the 2015 Independent Foreign Fiction Prize. Meanwhile books originally written in German take five of the 15 spots, and Quercus has three titles on the selection.
The Independent Foreign Fiction Prize sets out to honour contemporary fiction in translation, with the £10,000 prize money divided equally between author and translator, recognising the importance of the translator in their ability to bridge the gap between languages and cultures.
Murakami is longlisted for Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage (Harvill Secker), translated from the Japanese by Philip Gabriel. The book follows the title character, who as an adult goes on a journey to find out why his childhood friends stopped speaking to him suddenly.
Knausgaard [pictured] makes the list for Boyhood Island (Harvill Secker), translated from the Norwegian by Don Bartlett. Boyhood Island is the third book in Knausgaard’s My Struggle series, and sees the author revisiting his childhood.
Both Murakami and Knausgaard have been longlisted twice before for the prize.
The five German titles include Timur Vermes’ book about Hitler waking up in 2011, Look Who’s Back (MacLehose Press), translated by Jamie Bulloch. German writing is also represented by F by Daniel Kehlmann (Quercus), about two brothers with nothing in common, translated by Carol Brown Janeway. The End of Days (Portobello Books) by Jenny Erpenbeck is translated from the German by Susan Bernofsky, and follows the possible lives of one woman in the 20th century.
The Giraffe’s Neck by Judith Schalansky (Bloomsbury), translated from the German by Shaun Whiteside, is about a biology teacher who believes in the survival of the fittest, and who has to learn to adapt when he school’s future is threatened.
The final German book on the list is Tiger Milk by Stefanie de Velasco (Head of Zeus), translated by Tim Mohr, about two best friends growing up.
As well as Murakami, from Asia there is also The Investigation by Jung-Myung Lee (Mantle), translated from the Korean by Chi-Young Kim, about a murder at a Korean prison in 1944. Lee is only the second Korean writer to feature on the prize’s longlist in its 25-year history. The Last Lover by Can Xue (Margellos World Republic of Letters), translated from the Chinese by Annelise Finegan Wasmoen, is a tale of a series of husbands, wives and lovers.
There are two Spanish novels on the list. In the Beginning Was the Sea by Tomás González (Pushkin Press), translated by Frank Wynne, is about a couple who abandon city life for a new life on a remote tropical coast. Wynne won the prize in 2005 with his translation of Windows on the World by Frédéric Beigbeder (Harper Perennial). By Night the Mountain Burns by Juan Tomás Ávila Laurel (And Other Stories), translated by Jethro Soutar, recounts the narrator’s childhood on a remote island off the West African coast.
Also on the longlist is The Ravens by Tomas Bannerhed (The Clerkenwell Press), translated from the Swedish by Sarah Death, a story of a father and son in 1970s Sweden.
Bloodlines by Marcello Fois (MacLehose Press), translated from the Italian by Silvester Mazzarella, is about the lives and loves of the Chironi family.
The Dead Lake by Hamid Ismailov (Peirene Press), translated from the Russian by Andrew Bromfield, is about the environmental legacy of the Cold War.
The final book on the list is While the Gods Were Sleeping by Erwin Mortier (Pushkin Press), translated from the Dutch by Paul Vincent. It is about an old woman looking back at her life.
Boyd Tonkin, judge, and columnist and senior writer at the Independent, said: “With its spread of well-known global names and fresh talent, this outstanding longlist will introduce readers to old favourites and new discoveries. All arrive in first-rate translations that give a platform for this precious but sometimes under-valued art. I’m delighted that fiction from east Asia has such a strong presence. And the remarkable crop of German contenders shows that, in the 25th anniversary year of the Berlin Wall’s fall, UK publishers paid well-deserved attention to the country’s robust and vibrant literary scene.”
The longlist was chosen from 111 titles from 28 languages by a panel made up of Tonkin; Antonia Lloyd-Jones, a full-time translator of Polish literature; author Helen Oyeyemi; Richard Mansell, senior lecturer in translation at the University of Exeter; and Cristina Fuentes La Roche, director of Hay Festival Americas. Fuentes La Roche replaces Rosie Goldsmith, who has had to withdraw for personal reasons.
The shortlist will be announced on Thursday 9th April, and a shortlist event will be held at Foyles in Charing Cross Road, London, on Thursday 16th April. The winner will be announced on Wednesday 27th May.
The 2014 prize was won by The Iraqi Christ by Iraqi writer Hassan Blasim (Comma Press), translated by Jonathan Wright.
The prize is administered by Booktrust.